Purpose of tying a horses head down?

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Purpose of tying a horses head down?

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    06-10-2011, 10:11 PM
Purpose of tying a horses head down?

Today at the ranch I volunteer at we were told to tack up and exercise a couple of horses but first we had to tie down their heads. I had never tied down a horses head before. But once they started to do it I couldn't figure out the point of doing it. First they would tie the horse to either side and let them stand there for a moment, then undo the knot and tie it on the other side the same way. I was told it was to stretch the neck. Personally if you just want to stretch it just save the time it takes to knot it and flex the neck from side to side, it would be literally the same thing. Then they ran the lines up between the front legs connected to the bit and tied the horses head down that way. Then made them trot around a couple of times. One horse freaked out and nearly toppled over backwards because she was tied slightly too tight and was backing up like crazy.

I didn't really see the point of this, though I was told that the horse I was riding needed it because she was tossing her head a lot. Didn't do anything for her at all, she still tossed her head and tried to jerk the reins out of my hands a lot anyway. Could someone enlighten me with what the purpose of doing this is? All the horses give to the bit nicely enough. All I do with my horse is flex her neck from side to side on the ground and she knows the cue to lower her head.
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    06-11-2011, 12:50 AM
There have been a lot of threads about this. Many members don't see the value of tie downs (including me). But I hear that they are commonly used in barrel racing. I know nothing about it, so won't comment there.

Tie down can create a lot of problems for horses, which then require tie downs. It's a very bad shortcut in training, if you ask me. Let's see what the others say . . . .
    06-11-2011, 01:35 AM
Tiny, I think you are thinking of an actual tie-down. I suspect what the OP is talking about is tying them like this.

And I can't find a picture of one tied straight down like she was describing, but here is a video that shows basically what she's talking about. The reins are run down between the front legs and normally either tied to the cinch d-rings on either side or tied together over the seat of the saddle.

To the OP, I will often use the first method of tying to each side for the first day on an un-broken horse just to teach them to give to the bit laterally. That is actually my picture of the brown mare above. However, I very seldom use this more than one time each way and normally not more than 15 minutes or so. If the horse is already at least green broke, I fail to see the point of repeating this lesson on the ground. I think it's much better to do it from the saddle if they are ready to be ridden.

As for the second method of tying their head down between their legs, it is pretty common around here but I don't personally like it because I have great results doing that myself from the saddle. I can see how it would be a better method for someone who had very poor hands that didn't know when to release pressure but, IMHO, that person would have no business training anyway.

In regards to the mare you were riding, if it didn't fix the head-tossing the first couple of times they did it, then it isn't going to. I'd be more willing to bet that her head-tossing issue was either because her teeth are bad, she doesn't like that particular bit, or has been ridden too often by inexperienced riders that pop her in the mouth and hang on the reins.
    06-11-2011, 02:49 AM
Yeah, I didn't understand her description. I think I should reserve my comments , because I don't know that much about what you guys are talking about. The tie downs I have seen are things like training forks, standing or running martingales.
    06-11-2011, 10:36 AM
Sorry for not being very clear. Its is what smrobs described. Yes these horses are well broke lesson horses that have been ridden and shown for years, if they weren't I could see the point of tying to the side like the picture smrobs posted. As for the mare I rode I assume they've done this a lot to her as she didn't fuss about it and they talked like they had done it to her before. She is a lesson horse, and has been ridden often by inexperienced riders, I've been told they may be moving her to a stronger bit, I'm not sure what bit she's in right now. But the fact these horses can be ridden, I didn't see the point of tying their heads down. Am I missing something?
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    06-11-2011, 10:48 AM

Double post, sorry
    06-11-2011, 10:53 AM
Horses benefit greating from remedial back to basics training exercises no matter how old or experienced they might be. My own horse and others I've had in my care are case in point. More specifically my own "once in a lifetime horse".

However, the horse in the video has a biting chambon that is a more moderate to a bit severe it looks to be for that horse.

Tying a horse's head to first one side of the saddle then to the opposite side is a "tried and true" method of teaching a horse to give to the bridle and thus more flexible and less stiff on one side or the other. Generally speaking all horses are usually more right handed than left handed.
    06-11-2011, 11:52 AM
Tying a horses head down between their legs, especially with that terrifying looking chambon to me has no purpose except to attempt to get the horse in a headset. I owned a horse in my younger years that was put in a chambon (ie face tied to chest) repeatedly and she ended up with severe neck trauma and was rendered unrideable by the age of about 8.
To me, anyone that needs to tie the head to the chest has no understanding of the mechanics of the horse or basic training and is a poor rider and shouldnt be calling themselves a trainer.
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    06-11-2011, 12:35 PM
The horse that freaked out was also wearing a chambon. She is always ridden in one. When I asked the purpose of it I was told it was to make her as safe as possible. What is the chambon for?
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    06-11-2011, 01:26 PM
Tying the horses face to its chest so if it trips its going to fall or flip over. Yep, really safe. The reason it freaks out is probably pain from inflammation or arthritis in the neck.
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